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Old 02-03-2006, 11:13 AM   #1
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Newbie needs help with Fish & Coral Aquarium setup

I started researching on freshwater setup and since my 6 year old insists that we should go for a saltwater, here i am . I have some basic questions to begin with.

My ideal aquarium would be 55g with about 15-20 fishes and two or three live corals. I am thinking of running a plumbing line so that changing water is easier.

I am not budget minded, but I dont want to go overboard either (thats what I say everytime). Anyway here are my questions:

a) What are the minimal requirements? Can I postpone buying protein skimmer for about three months? There is mixed opinion about its necessity.
b) Which is better: A canister filter or a wet/dry system?
c) Can I limit the total expense to $600 without compromising a lot?
d) Since I am planning to run the plumbing line (only if my handyman cooperates) changing water is hopefully easier. How often should I change. I hear the Marine Aquarium setup should not be disturbed often.
e) Live corals - Is it that big of a deal to maintain it? I really like those corals but I dont want to get a state where I lose my sleep over it.

Pl. help me clear my newbie anxiety. Thank you.
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Old 02-03-2006, 11:22 AM   #2
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I hate to break the bad news to you. No 55 gallon, no matter how it is set up, would be suitable for 15-20 fish. Your budget of 600.00 will not be enough to cover the lighting needed for corals. The basic set up, probably. This is a very expensive hobby.

Water changes should be done monthly as a bare minimum.
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Old 02-03-2006, 11:32 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aravindk
My ideal aquarium would be 55g with about 15-20 fishes and two or three live corals.
Can’t really have 15-20 fish in a 55 gal SW tank. The 1” per gal rule is for FW and for salt it’s 1” per 5 gal or 11” of fish. If you want that many fish in a 55 gal you will have to do a FW or Brackish tank. If you are looking for “colorful” fish you may consider trying African Cichlids which are mostly brackish fish that are fairly easy to take care of.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aravindk
a) What are the minimal requirements? Can I postpone buying protein skimmer for about three months? There is mixed opinion about its necessity.
For FO a skimmer isn’t nessasary but it is nice to have and can be added at any time.
As far as “minimal requirements” go you will need the following:
tank/stand
minimum of 60 lbs of aragonite sand and preferably 130 lbs for a decent 3” sand bed.
A couple of powerheads like Maxi-Jet 1200, Penguin 1140, or Seio Super Pumps are all good choices.
A AP Test Kit to test the basic ph/nh3/no2/no3.
A floating hydrometer or Refractometer to accurately measure sg.
A 200w-250w heater and a thermometer.
Either 1-1.5 lbs per gal of base/lr or you could get the Magnum 350 Pro to handle bio-filtration.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aravindk
c) Can I limit the total expense to $600 without compromising a lot?
$600 would be about the bare minimum for a FO setup. Closer to $2000+ for a coral setup.
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Old 02-03-2006, 11:43 AM   #4
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Quote:
$600 would be about the bare minimum for a FO setup. Closer to $2000+ for a coral setup.
i'm already above and beyond 2k and i have a 55g also
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Old 02-03-2006, 11:49 AM   #5
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I just went over $3500 this month after having my tank up for 7 months now. The $2+k was just for starting out though Brenden I think mentioned he was over $25k just last month. Of course his is a little bigger than our 55 gal tanks
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Old 02-03-2006, 12:09 PM   #6
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i cant even imagine spending that much heh but i guess if i had a 500+ gal it would be within that range hehe
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Old 02-03-2006, 12:14 PM   #7
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Gosh! I thought you guys would welcome me with open arms. But all I see here is stretched legs. I have to go back to drawing board I guess.

Coral - perhaps I was daydreaming at work. Anyway I will revisit Coral when I get a book deal or something. I will go with fish only setup for now.

I will also go for a slightly bigger tank since it is a one time expense anyway and the difference is not going to be much. Also when it comes to corals, is bigger tank the better or smaller one?
I mean from the maintenance point of view.

I will limit the no of fishes to 10 and increase the budget. Thanks for the brand names you suggested and I will consider these.

Any other tips & pointers are much appreciated.

Aravind.

ps: 25K for a hobby? ohmigod, I dont even earn that much in a month...
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Old 02-03-2006, 12:27 PM   #8
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btw Welcome to AA

Even in a 100 gal you wouldn’t be able to keep 10 fish realistically unless they were all 2”. You will have tons of aggression, filtration issues, & death if you try.

Best advice I could give is to research this hobby for at least 3 months before buying anything. Lots of people spend wasted money on inferior equipment from not knowing the right stuff to get in the first place.

The articles on this site is a good place to start to answer basic questions. The books listed on this site are also excellent for reference along with asking any questions you might have here.
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Old 02-03-2006, 01:38 PM   #9
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Thanks techwzrd. I did read a couple of articles from the site and I also found whole bunch of articles in about.com.

I have been researching this for a couple of weeks and also not a totally newbie. I have had a 30g freshwater years ago. That is another reason why dont want to do freshwater again.

This 'wait for 3 months' approach has been generally advised and I am going to be sincere this time. I dont buy inferior stuff but known to waste money on stuff that I dont need.

I dont understand what you you mean by 10 fishes, all of them 2". Are you saying that overcrowding leads to more maintenance probems?
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Old 02-03-2006, 01:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aravindk
Are you saying that overcrowding leads to more maintenance problems?
Since you kept a 30 gal FW before you probably had little issues with putting a lot of fish into that tank. The main difference in SW versus FW is that SW fish come from a very stable environment (the ocean) and FW fish are generally raised in captivity or come from otherwise less the perfect FW conditions with varying levels of ph and quality.

SW fish/inverts are therefore much less biologically able to handle adverse water conditions and overcrowding can quickly lead to higher nh3/no2/no3 levels that can kill them. That and the fact that SW doesn’t exchange oxygen as easily as FW (which is partly why we use ph pointed at the surface) and too many fish in a SW tank could quickly suffocate should your power go out for more than an hour.

If you follow the general rule of 1” (adult length) per 5 gal of water you will be fine. www.liveaquaria.com is also an excellent resource for fish/coral needs.
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